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Arsenal: Arsene Wenger Must Risk Playing Andrey Arshavin in the Middle

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20:  Andrey Arshavin of Arsenal with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on August 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Jack Wilshere's latest setback should encourage Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to trust wayward Russia international Andrey Arshavin in central midfield. The heavily-criticised, languid attacker could recapture his best form in the most important position in the Gunners' tactical structure.

Arshavin has the skills to be very effective as the most advanced member of Arsenal's midfield trio. He can add the extra dynamism and craft that Arsenal's attacking play has been sorely lacking. He possesses the playmaking talents that make him a natural fit to occupy the space in between the midfield and forward lines. 

At his best, Arshavin is most effective when attacking a defense with his scuttling, slaloming running style and intricate ball skills. The former Zenit star has the sudden quickness and shooting power to offer a greater goal threat from the midfield areas.

Arshavin is a cerebral player with the speed of thought and natural creative instincts to provide a more consistent supply line to Arsenal's front three. He has proved that he can be precise and decisive when picking out passes in and around the edge of the box.

The downside to any move involving Arshavin is the player's lack of effort and commitment. While these are legitimate concerns, Arshavin's presence at the top of Arsenal's midfield could actually contribute to a more solid team.

Knowing Arshavin's reticence to track back and be active out of possession, deeper-lying players like Alex Song and Mikel Arteta would be forced to hold their positions with more discipline. With Arshavin in the mix, the midfield three would not be as interchangeable and move with the fluidity they do at the moment.

But two players forced to sit deep may help make Arsenal less susceptible to quick breaks and counters from the opposition. Taking Arshavin off the wing also puts him in a better position to do more damage.

The diminutive schemer's game has always been more about end product. As an attacking midfielder in a central position, Arshavin would be getting on the ball in areas where his particular talents are needed the most.

Playing Andrey Arshavin centrally can ease the pressure on the likes of Aaron Ramsey and increase the potency of Arsenal's attacking play. It is a gamble, but might be worth the risk for Wenger and the club to salvage the investment in their record signing and save the Gunners' season.

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